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Israel Police Prepare for Possible Terror Wave

By Israel Faxx News Services

Police Chief Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky said Thursday: "Israel Police is preparing for a possible increase of Palestinian terror attacks and violent clashes following the Bush-Sharon summit in Washington." According to Aharonishky who spoke at a police convention in Yad Vashem (Israel's Holocaust memorial authority), the summit was an "historic" event. In addition, the chief commissioner said he had instructed district heads to prepare for possible large-scale right-wing demonstrations following Washington's endorsement of the disengagement plan, which they strongly oppose.


Arafat Rejects Israeli Gaza Pullout Plan

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat, reacting Thursday to the outcome of President Bush's summit with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said his people would never give up their struggle for an independent homeland, with Jerusalem as its capital.

In Israeli circles, the summit is being seen largely as a victory for Sharon, who wants to get Israel out of the Gaza Strip, but he still faces angry opposition at home to the plan. Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials alike debated the results of the Bush-Sharon summit. The main assessment from the Palestinian side is that Bush has shown favoritism toward Israel by legitimizing Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership also said that Bush has come out against the right of Palestinian refugees to return to areas that are now part of Israel. In what many saw as a defiant response to the summit, Arafat said the Palestinians would never abandon the claims of their refugees, nor make more territorial concessions.

He added that in the long run Palestinians would win their right to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, and it would be the Israelis who have to retreat. "All the suffering of the Palestinian people, the power, the aggression and the Israeli assassinations and the siege, and the collective punishment - all of this is going to push us to stand firm and unify against the Israeli occupiers and force them and their settlers to leave our land forever."

There is also some anger on the Israeli side following the summit. Jewish settlers are stepping up their own campaign to try to stop Sharon from removing them from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

At the same time, Bush's endorsement of the plan has won Sharon more supporters, among them the Israeli immigration minister, Tzipi Livni. "This is something that I think was essential for Israel. It was important for me that President Bush would make this kind of statement."

Livni is a member of Sharon's ruling Likud party, which is set to hold a referendum in early May on the prime minister's plan for disengagement from the Palestinian areas. Sharon needs to win the referendum to help get the approval of his cabinet and the parliament for his plan.


Israeli Troops, Palestinian Gunmen Clash in Gaza

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli troops battled with Palestinian gunmen Thursday in the southern Gaza Strip, just hours after President Bush endorsed a plan for an Israeli withdrawal from the territory. At least 11 Palestinians were reported wounded in the operation that Israel said was aimed at uncovering tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt. The IDF swept into the southern Gaza town of Rafah on the border with Egypt early Thursday, drawing fierce resistance from Palestinian gunmen.

Israeli officials said the raid was part of ongoing efforts by Israel to uncover and destroy a network of tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives into Gaza from Egypt. Palestinian residents say that during the operation an Israeli helicopter fired a missile toward a group of armed Palestinians.

The latest violence came only hours after Bush publicly backed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw troops and Jewish settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. At the same time, Sharon has said Israel would also lay claim to large Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank and deny Palestinian refugees the right to return to areas that are now part of the Jewish state.

The Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, believes Bush has now endorsed these positions and says this is unacceptable. Qureia says the Palestinian leadership accepts only United Nations resolutions aimed at resolving the conflict with Israel and the international "road map" peace plan. "We cannot accept it. We refuse it. And we are committed only to the international legitimacy, to the international resolution, the (U.N.) Security Council resolution, to the road map."


Palestinian Official Urges Blair to Persuade U.S. to Reverse Stance on Israeli Settlements

By Michael Drudge (VOA-London)

The Palestinian foreign minister said Thursday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair should use his meeting with President Bush on Friday to persuade Bush to reverse his acceptance of some Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian officials are expressing what one calls "great disappointment" with the new Bush administration policy regarding Israel's West Bank settlements.

Shaath explained his views on British radio: "I would very much like to see Mr. Blair continue to explain to the Bush administration the folly of going into this present situation, and the dangers that it contains not only for the Israelis and the Palestinians but for the Middle East in general."

Bush on Wednesday endorsed a plan by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw entirely from the Gaza Strip and from some parts of the West Bank, though at least five large Jewish settlements would remain there. The Palestinians want a complete Israeli pullout from the West Bank.

Before the Shaath appeal, Blair had already issued a statement welcoming the Israeli announcement. Blair said the Sharon move gives the international community an opportunity to revive what is called the "road map" to Middle East peace.

British political observers said Blair's endorsement of the Sharon plan appears to put him at odds with the pro-Palestinian wing of his Labor Party, including Foreign Minister Jack Straw, who has been a leading advocate of the Palestinian cause.


Purported Bin Laden Tape Vows to Avenge Yassin's Death

By Israel Faxx News Services

Arab television stations aired a new audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, which vowed revenge on Israel for the death of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin. "We vow before God to take revenge for him from America for this, God Willing," said the voice on the tape, broadcast by Dubai-based Al Arabiya channel and then by Qatar-based Al Jazeera station.

The tape also offered a truce with European states if they stop attacking Muslims, but not with the United States. "I announce a truce with the European countries that do not attack Muslim countries," the taped message said as the stations showed an old, still picture of bin Laden. The message said the truce would last three months and could be extended. However, the speaker indicated it would not begin right away: "The truce will begin when the last soldier leaves our countries," he said without elaborating.


Bush's 2004 Middle East Vision Could Be Israel's Nightmare

By DEBKAfile (Special Analysis)

Back to 1949? George W. Bush is the first U.S. president to refer to the 1949 Armistice Lines in a formal statement on the Middle East conflict. This was the most striking and portentous U.S. policy change to emerge from his joint news conference with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon after their White House talks Wednesday, April 14.

What he said was: Realities on the ground have changed over decades. In the light of those changes, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the 1949 armistice lines. Final frontiers should be mutually agreed on the basis of these changes.

DEBKAfile's political analysts examined the 1949 Armistice Agreements to find out why Bush departed from the usual pre-June 4 1967 Green Line locution. They found that the 1949 agreements, which were meant to stand only up until final peace settlements, left open or as demilitarized zones large and highly strategic areas of pre-1967 Israel, including the Hamma intersection of the Israeli, Jordanian and Syrian borders, the Nitzana region south of the Gaza Strip and abutting on Sinai in the Israeli Negev, the eastern half of the Israeli Arava from Tsofar south of the Dead Sea up to Eilat at its southernmost tip.

Putting these large chunks of Israel back on the negotiating table would provide a pretext for Egypt and Jordan to re-open its peace treaties with Israel and lay fresh claims to more territory. An even more dangerous twist could come about if the leaders of Israel's two peace partners decided to renounce their claims in favor of enlarging a Palestinian state.

Therefore, whereas Sharon may have gained partial endorsement from Bush of some of the larger West Bank Jewish settlement blocs -- existing major Israeli population centers --it came with a price tag that is far too steep for Israel to safely countenance: payment for those settlements by turning the clock back to a time when large tracts of territory in pre-1967 Little Israel were claimed and fought over by its Arab neighbors.

He praised Sharon's willingness to begin removing certain military installations and settlements in Gaza Strip and Gaza Strip, but only because it offered the promise of territorial continuity for a future Palestinian state. Rather than endorsing Sharon's disengagement proposals, he lauded Israeli pullbacks. Even Bush's recognition of -- major Israeli population centers -- he predicated on the outcome of final-status negotiations.

The U.S. President solemnly reaffirmed his steadfast commitment to Israel's self-defense capability including its right as a vibrant Jewish state to defend itself against terror. Yet he insisted that the security barrier Israel is building along the West Bank must be temporary rather than permanent so as not prejudice any final status issues including final borders.

The only real gain Sharon came away with from his oft-deferred White House visit was an assertion by the U.S. president that Palestinian refugees should be resettled in a future Palestinian state rather than Israel. This effectively, though not explicitly, ruled out their right to return to lands and homes lost in the 1948 Arab-Israel war.

Bush called the Palestinians to task for failing to renounce terror and so disqualifying themselves from the Middle East political process and the attainment of statehood. They would regain a seat at the negotiating table only after abjuring terror and instituting a change of leadership that is committed to peace. It is very important, Bush stressed, for a Palestinian state to emerge "in which we have confidence, in which any prime minister of Israel has confidence, that it will be a peaceful partner."

The Palestinian half of Bush's June 24, 2003 Middle East vision therefore remains unchanged. However the Israeli half after 10 months is unrecognizable.


Tanzim Recruiting Minors for Attacks

By Ha'aretz

Two incidents involving minors at an Israeli military checkpoint at Hawara, south of Nablus, captured wide attention last month. It now transpires they were connected in more ways than one.

In the first case, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was caught trying to smuggle an explosives belt in a bag that had been placed in his wagon. The second incident involved a 16-year-old who was found to be wearing an explosives belt. Hussam Abdu, who looked much younger than his years, told interrogators he had been persuaded to commit suicide on promises of numerous virgins in heaven.

Both boys had been sent by the same organization - the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, from the Kasba in Nablus - but it was not clear whom their recruiter was.

About two weeks ago, another 16-year-old was arrested by IDF troops in the kasba. Nasser Awartani told his interrogators he had been a "talent scout" for the brigades and had found both boys and a number of other potential suicide bombers who were minors.

Awartani said he and another 16-year-old, Ta'er Ahsan Titi, had taken Abdu to the Hawarta checkpoint where he was caught. Awartani said that he had personally recruited Abdu, whom he knew from the neighborhood and from school. Awartani reportedly told his interrogators he received orders from his operator, Ismayil Haraz, a Tanzim activist from Nablus, who in turn received orders and funding from Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Awartani also said he had sent the 10-year-old, Abdallah Kouran, to the Hawara checkpoint. The boy did not know there was a bomb in his bag. On another occasion, Awartani said, he had also dispatched Titi to the checkpoint carrying an explosives belt. Titi got cold feet, hid the belt near Hawara, and fled. According to Awartani, he also recruited another two 16-year-olds whom he knew from his neighborhood, but they were both caught before they could carry out their missions.

Military sources believe the Tanzim is deliberately using young boys since they assume they will draw less attention and pass through the checkpoints more easily than adults. Haraz, who heads the cell, is responsible for a series of attempts since the end of March - all of which were foiled - to send suicide bombers into Israel. All the boys who have so far been detained will shortly be charged.

Palestinian public opinion is sharply divided over the growing use of children for terrorist activities. The families of two of the youths detained, Abdu and Titi, have come out strongly against the exploitation of their children.

A number of intellectuals and political activists in Nablus have recently organized petitions against sending young boys and youths on terror missions. Even Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel have come out against the practice and have tried to publish a strong condemnation of the exploitation of children.


Study Shows Holocaust Survivor Children Not Traumatized

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A new study shows that children of Holocaust survivors, in Israel and abroad, do not suffer from psychological problems more than other people unaffected by the Holocaust.

Researchers from Holland's Leiden University and from the Child Development Center of Haifa University carried out the study, which looked at 4,418 subjects. The study examined whether or not the trauma of the Holocaust was transferred to the second-generation subjects, manifesting itself in psychopathologies or psychological illness.


Praying Alone

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Rabbi Shmuel Vozner, one of the most widely respected Halakhic decisors of the hareidi public, has issued a ruling regarding public prayer on El Al planes.

In response to a query by the liaison between El Al and the hareidi community, Vozner wrote, "There should be no minyan [prayer quorum of at least 10 men] formed in a large gathering [on an airplane] because of the fear of danger, as well as disturbance to proper devotion during prayer and a disturbance to people who pass by. Rather, small minyanim should be formed in several places [that will not cause these disturbances]."

The scholarly rabbi ruled that passengers should try to recite the Amidah prayer - generally said while standing and with particular devotion - while "standing at or next to their seats, and not in the middle of the aisles. But if it cannot be said in this fashion, it is better to sit while reciting the Amidah, and this will be beneficial both for proper concentration and in matters of modesty."

Vozner added that passengers must adhere to safety instructions to fasten seatbelts "even in the middle of the Amidah... By behaving properly and in accordance with Jewish law, G-d's Name will be sanctified by us."



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